The future of Africa is getting brighter with every passing year. This is because of the relentless contributions by budding enterprises in both profit and non-profit entrepreneurship. The African Diaspora Network has singled out and rewarded 10 early-age entrepreneurs in Africa. These are the ones that are building the future of the continent through technology. Through The Builders of Africa’s Future (BAF) Award, the organization has recognized the contributions of African innovators who are leading the continent in its tech and differentiated business development landscapes.
Africa is a continent with myriad and unique needs that require innovative solutions. The BAF initiative and Awards which is currently its second year, recognizes, celebrates and wards early-stage innovations in Africa. It gives recognition and awards 10 entrepreneurs from all regions in the continent. These regions are East, Central, West, North and South Africa in order to balance initiatives in building the future of Africa.
Enterprises Building Future of Africa
The BAF looks at areas of concern where African innovators are coming up with unique solutions. These areas include education, health, commerce, energy, gender inclusion financial inclusion, industrial development, nutrition among other areas that provide socioeconomic benefits. This year, the following innovative African enterprises impressed BAF and hence subsequently awarded the Impact and Innovation Award for building the future of Africa;
- AkiraChix. (Kenya) Linda Kamau is the MD and co-founder of AkiraChix that provides hands-on technical teaching and mentorship to young girls, women and children. This is in order to increase the number of skillful women in tech and impact the community positively.
- Asante Mama Brand – Sunshine Agro Products (Uganda). Pamela Anyoti Peronaci is the founding associate of Sunshine Agro Products and Owner and CEO of Asante Mama brand.
- Enda Athletic (Kenya). Navalayo Osembo-Ombati is the founder of Enda Athletic, a business that is bringing Kenyan athletic prominence to runners around the globe by producing the first made-in-Kenya running shoes that champion the spirit of running from the abode of running champions.
- Fundibots (Uganda). Solomon King is the founder FundiBots, a non-profit in education with an objective of accelerating science learning in Africa.
- J-Palm Liberia. (Liberia) Mahmud Johnson is the founder and CEO of J-Palm Liberia (JPL), a company that produces organic health and beauty products out of formerly wasted palm kernels.
Others in the future of Africa list include the following;
- Moringaconnect (Ghana). Kwami Williams is the co-founder of MoringaConnect, a vertically incorporated supply chain aimed at improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. He is also a NASA rocket scientist and now a future for Africa.
- Shule Direct (Tanzania). Faraja Nyalandu is the founder of Shule Direct, a successful organization that provides inclusive web and mobile educational platforms in order to offer educational content across multiple subjects to over a million youth in and out of school.
- Unreasonable East Africa (Uganda). Joachim Ewechu is the founder of SHONA Group, a company that is transforming economies in East Africa by growing East African good quality businesses.
- WeMove (Nigeria). Celestine Ezeokoye is the founder/CEO of this enterprise that is focused on building inventive technology solutions for transportation in Africa.
- Women in Tech Uganda. Barbara Birungi Mutabazi is the founder/director of Women in Technology Uganda, an organization bringing together women in order to foster technology.
Winners in Building African Future
The founders and leaders of the above enterprises are the builders of Africa’s future according to BAF. This is because they “represent the stories we want the community to learn about developmental progress on the continent [Africa]”.
The winners received the Impact and Innovation Award during the just concluded African Diaspora Investment Symposium that ended on January 26. This electrifying event was at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Silicon Valley in United States. The event convened entrepreneurs, innovators, leaders, investors, and friends of Africa, with a common goal of promoting the future of Africa.
To be eligible for the award, an enterprise needs to be an established legal entity. It also must have demonstrable traction in the market and not in the pitch or prototype stages. Additionally, the enterprise must have a website, tangible physical or digital product spanning more than six months. Most importantly, the future of Africa business “cannot be a clone of a western technology or business solution without differentiation”
Sustainable Growers Rwanda Improving The Livelihood Of Female Coffee Farmers
Sustainable Growers Rwanda (SG-R) is a local non-profit. The organization is offering training to low-income female coffee farmers to improve their livelihood. Majority of the low coffee yields are due to wrong farm practices. Some of the farming techniques SG-R are teaching the female farmers are mulching and timely application of fertilizers and pesticides.
The program SG-R is teaching the female coffee farmers has topics like cooperative management, agricultural practices, governance and leadership, home coffee roasting, and gender mainstreaming. The training happened in the Huye District of Rwanda. The female coffee farmers were also trained in quality control and cupping. These are necessary to increase their access to bigger markets. The Regional Director at Sustainable Growers, Christine Condo, said,
“We have a heavy agenda to enrich women’s potential with skills and means. Their focus and discipline inspire me greatly. These initiatives impact positively on the entire life-cycle of their respective families and Communities. We believe that 60 percent of coffee quality is achieved from the farm. That is why we have been training them to take care of coffee from seedlings to roasting, to cupping and marketing.”
Impact of the training to female coffee farmers
A lot of Rwandan female coffee farmers are already reaping the benefits of the training. For example, Prisca Mukamurenzi has been suffering from low yield. The 46-year-old female coffee farmer used to harvest one kilogram of coffee from one tree. However, since attending the training, her fortune has changed for the better.
Mukamurenzi was one of the graduates of the SG-R training program comprising of about 3700 female coffee farmers. In attendance were farmers from the districts of Nyamagabe, Gisagara, Nyaruguru, and Huye. Last year Mukamurenzi was able to generate Rwf460,000 (approx. $510) from 250 kg of coffee. She also increased the coffee trees in her garden from 185 to 250.
To ensure the farmers implemented what they learned, SG-R also developed a reward scheme. The reward scheme called “Wakoze neza Muhinzi”, Premium Sharing Rewards was worth Rwf17 million (approx. $19,000). Depending on their level of performance, the women were rewarded with phones, radios, fabrics (ibitenge), mattresses, solar lights, pruning saws, pruning shears, sprayers, goats, pigs, and cows.
About Sustainable Growers Rwanda
Sustainable Growers Rwanda started its training in Nyaruguru District three years ago. However, the training has spread to other districts in the past years. The aim of their training is to improve the quality and prices of coffee as well as enhance transparency in coffee trading. Female coffee farmers in Nyaruguru are now reaping 100 percent increase in yield.
Tanzanian Government Takes A Bold Stand To Protect The Environment
Plastic accumulation is becoming a menace around the globe. Marine life often consumes these plastics which eventually get into humans. Many countries around the world are exploring alternatives to plastic use. However, Tanzania is the latest country to officially place a ban on the use of plastic bags. The ban will take effect from the 1st of June 2019. On Thursday 16th of May 2019, the government released a statement titled “Notice To Travelers Planning To Visit Tanzania” which read in part,
“The Government of Tanzania wishes to make an official note to travelers planning to travel to Tanzania that from 1st June 2019 all plastic bags, regardless of their thickness will be prohibited from being imported, exported, manufactured, sold, stored, supplied and used in mainland Tanzania.”
Consequently, the government is planning to set up a special desk at entry points to ensure total compliance. With the announcement, Tanzania joins about thirteen other African countries that have either introduced levy or banned plastic bags. However, the Prime Minister, Kassim Majaliwa is calling on plastic bag manufacturers to find alternative technologies for bags.
The problem with plastic bags and exceptions to the ban
The major problem with plastic bags is the length of time it takes to decay. Some researchers are speculating it can take up to 1,000 years. Consequently, their accumulation can lead to flooding when they block drainages. Also, they can prevent rainwater from penetrating the soil leading to low crop yield.
However, the government understands the importance of plastic in packaging and makes exceptions for a few. According to the statement, plastics or plastic packaging for sanitary and waste management, foodstuff, agricultural sector, construction industry, industrial products, and medical services are exceptions to the ban. “Ziplo Bags” used for carrying toiletries are also permitted for travelers since they are unlikely to be disposed of in the country. Another part of the statement reads,
“The government does not intend for visitors to Tanzania to find their stay unpleasant as we enforce the ban. However, the government expects that, in appreciation of the imperative to protect the environment and keep our country clean and beautiful, our visitors will accept minor inconveniences resulting from this plastic bags ban.”
Commendations for the new law
The international community is sending their message of congratulations to the Tanzanian government for the historic move. One of such messages came from Dr. Amani Ngusaru, the WWF Country Director. Ngusaru lauded the move as a boost to environmental and natural resources protection.
“Plastic is a number one polluter of environment and a silent killer of our natural environment and resources than most people understand. This is because it takes more than a hundred years for a single plastic bag to decay. We are happy that Tanzania is among the very few African countries to ban the use of plastic bags and we will work hard toward supporting the government in the fight against plastic pollution”.
Other African countries with a plastic control
In 2007, Uganda placed a ban on lightweight plastic bag. However, the ban was never implemented. In August 2018, Kenya introduced a total ban on the use of plastics. Consequently, those using plastics illegally in Kenya risk 4 years in prison or a fine of $40,000. Also, it is illegal to import, produce, use, or sell plastic bags in Rwanda. Currently, there are over 40 countries around the globe that banned, restrict or tax the use of plastics including Italy, France, and China.
Tanzania Electric Train Commence Trial In July
Tanzania is reaching for another economic milestone. The government announced that it was it will be testing its maiden self-funded electric train. The train which will run at 160 km/h will be one of Africa’s fastest high-speed trains. The train will also provide a cheaper means of transport to the citizens.
Tanzania is set to test its self funded electric train in July 2019. The high speed train is tipped to be one of Africa’s fastest at a speed of 160mph.https://t.co/d2Z6EEmyPG
— CGTN Africa (@cgtnafrica) May 4, 2019
Further details show that the phase running from Dar es Salaam to Morogoro which has 6 in between stations and stretches 300 kilometers will commence operation in December. The trial trains in phase one will be three passenger trains. However, these trains will conduct daily round trips covering the two cities. Each passenger train will be making a minimum of 9 trips per day.
Difference between Tanzania electric train and regular train
The speed train will make use of concrete sleepers. This allows the railway network to carry as much as 35 tonnes of load per axle and increase its durability. Consequently, the rails should be able to last up to 40 years before any major repairs. However, the train bridge can last up to 100 years.
Speaking at the historic launch of the flash butt welding of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) at Soga, outside Dar es Salaam in Coastal region, Eng. Issac Kamwele, the Minister for Works, Transport and Communications said the trial of the speedy electric train will happen in July. However, the trial will only cover a section of the SGR. In comparison to other country’s SGR, Tanzania’s will be fasters. Kenya and South Africa’s SGR can only reach a speed of 120 km/h
The impact this project will have on the economy
Tanzania government is making great strides to boost the economy of the nation. Recently, the government proposed plans to build cable cars for Mount Kilimanjaro. This is projected to double the current 50,000 annual tourists. However, not many think it is a good idea. A few groups think it will lead to the loss of thousands of jobs.
The $1.9 billion (Tshs 4.3 trillion) project has already created over 26,000 job opportunities. However, the government is optimistic that the second and subsequent phases will create more opportunities once fully functional. The first railway lines in Tanganyika (previously German East Africa) were built after Zanzibar’s first tramway. The Ethio-Djibouti SGR project is currently the longest and first trans-boundary electric railway in Africa.
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